Ella is a small but beautiful town set in the luscious, green mountain region of Sri Lanka. It was a place I stumbled upon when planning our trip and I knew for sure that we had to pay a visit to this part of the country. Around 7 hours from Kandy, Ella has so much to offer travelers and I can say from experience it is worth the journey. Dan and I were blown away by the beauty of the area and actually wish we could have spent just a couple of days more to relax and explore. Even though our time here was short and sweet I thought I would still recommend my five recommendations for Ella, Enjoy!
1. Take the train
How much do tickets cost and can you buy them online?Getting hold of tickets wasn’t as easy as I first anticipated, first off you can’t buy them online unless you go through a tour company meaning you can only get tickets by buying directly from the train station. Most blogs that I read also recommended to buy them as early as possible on the day, but I would not recommend doing that. It is best to get tickets a couple of days in advance at least. We saw so many travelers who arrived at Nuwara Eliya station trying to book tickets get turned away and I felt so gutted for them. We also met other travellers along the way that traveled twice in two days and still couldn't get tickets. We thankfully arranged for our driver to get ours, but even then, (because we didn’t give enough notice) the timings of the train weren’t what we would have liked. My advice is, get your tickets as soon as you work out your route to avoid any disappointment.
2. Stay in a Tree house
3. Nine Arch Bridge
Located just outside of Ella main town is the world famous 9 arches railway track, the largest railway bridge in Sri Lanka and definitely something you don't want to miss when you visit Ella. We brought the drone to Sri Lanka just for this very place as we heard it was really a thing of beauty. We had originally planned to make our way down to the railway track after taking a hike to Little Adams Peak ( a small mountain hike experience in Ella) but unfortunately things didn't work out. We underestimated just how exhausted we would be with travelling solidly for 72 hours as well as recovering from food poisoning and so made the more sensible choice of walking to Explore Ella town and then taking a Tuk Tuk to the railway track. Little did we realise that we were still in for a hefty hike when the driver dropped us off at the top of the hill looking down onto the bridge and we had to make our way down a very steep dirt track. Honestly I would not recommend this, I nearly stacked it at least four times and actually had to have both Dan and a complete stranger hold my hand as I tried to step down sometimes nearly vertical mud steps. We laugh about it now as when we got to the bottom we were both pouring with sweat (the humidity is no joke) and realised we might as well have done the Little Adam's Peak hike after all.
When we arrived at the bottom we were shocked to find out that in order to get to the bridge we would have to walk on or at least along an active railway track, which at first seemed scary, before we checked the times of the upcoming trains and realised we had quite a while before any train would be passing. We stopped for a photo on the tracks and then followed the track around to the bridge area where there were quite a few people taking photos and launching their drones. Our timings also worked really well and we were able to experience watching an old fashioned train (much like the one we rode on to get to Ella) pass right by as as we stood at the side of the bridge. All in all it was a really unique experience, one that we thoroughly enjoyed.
4. Take a cookery class
I am giving you this advice even though Dan and I didn't actually do this, why you ask? Well if I could go back in time and learn how to re-create this meal I would do in a heartbeat. The food at Matey Hut this tiny shack like restaurant (on the corner road of Ella town) was one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life let alone just in Sri Lanka. The plate in this photo shows a delicious four vegetable curry. Okra, Mango, pumpkin and green beans and guess how much all of that cost.... Would you believe me if I said just £2.20. TWO POUND TWENTY it's unbelievable that a plate of food this good, costs less than a single bus journey in London. Their classes also only cost a grand total of around £10 which actually includes the lunch you prepare. We were truly kicking ourselves for not taking the class, so don't make the same silly mistake we did. But if you are short of time make sure you at least enjoy a meal at this fantastic little spot.
5. Ella Waterfall
This is something we did as we were leaving Ella as our driver told us it was on the exit road to make our way to the coast. Sri our driver kindly stopped off and parked for us so we could wander and take a photo by the waterfall. Just a note, It gets pretty crowded in the afternoon after 12pm but it's a nice atmosphere and there are a few little stalls selling boiled corn and sweet mango at the roadside which is a must try. You may also see a monkey or 50 as this area is covered with them, in fact they were everywhere along the roads as we leaving which made for an interesting goodbye to the beautiful town of Ella.